Does Pritzker actually care about pensions? Because he sure isn’t acting like it. Published by Jane the Actuary View all posts by Jane the Actuary
4 thoughts on “Forbes post, “Does Gov. Pritzker Truly Want To Solve The Illinois Pension Crisis?””
To amend the Pension Protection Clause is to attack future public employees’ rights to a constitutionally-guaranteed compensation, and that this can never be legally or morally justified, especially when Illinois politicians have never fully funded the public pension plans for several decades.
There are no equal rights when resolutions and proposals are made to underpin and to sustain the fortunes of a few at the expense and victimization of the state’s public employees and retirees. To possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a defined-benefit pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all Illinois legislators to protect that right, and that fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents.
The Pension Protection Clause is a binding legal commitment and requirement of justice, and that justice demands we keep our covenants with one another: for when legislators swear an oath to uphold the State and U.S. Constitutions, then citizens of Illinois have also acquired the right to expect that they will uphold that pledge. This is a matter of important legal and moral concern for all citizens of Illinois, for all legal claims are validated by a moral framework since the concept of justice is grounded in ethics and legality.
To anyone attempting to amend the Pension Protection Clause: my response to you is to read Article XIII, Section 5: “Pension and Retirement Rights” of the Illinois Constitution. Read Article 1, Section 16: “Ex Post Facto Laws and Impairing Contracts” of the Illinois Constitution. Read Article I, Section 15: “Right of Eminent Domain” (the Takings Clause) of the Illinois Constitution. Read Article I, Section 2: “Due Process and Equal Protection” of the Illinois Constitution. Read Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution: “No State shall… pass any… ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…” Read Amendment V, Section 1 of the United States Constitution: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Read Amendment XIV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution: “Due Process and Equal Protection.” To ignore the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and change laws that protect one group of people is to ignore due process and equal protection of the laws that guarantee contractual agreements as well. Finally, read the Illinois Supreme Court ruling: docket number 118585, filed on May 8, 2015!
It is shameful that some policymakers and pundits, et al. are still willing to renege on a guaranteed constitutional contract when it’s the state legislators who are the debtors. It is legally and morally wrong to modify public employees’ contractual rights and benefits prospectively and retroactively when there are legal and ethical ways to address the pension debt problem, such as through debt and revenue restructuring. Legal and moral sense dictates that all members of the Illinois General Assembly must align with the U.S. and State Constitutions and sanction the vested rights of its middle-class public employees.
Downstate police officers and fire fighters bear some responsibility for plans receiving inadequate municipal contributions. For many years plans used antiquated mortality tables that underestimated the length of life and retirement, resulting in the plans requesting too little money from the municipalities. The use of expected returns that are unrealistically high also results in contribution requests that are too low. But with iron clad guarantees of pension benefits that will never be diminished, it is easy to conclude that active participants aren’t interested in plans receiving the full necessary contribution. This is because full funding leaves less money for municipalities to grant pay hikes, which ultimately means lower end-of-career salary levels. Illinois’ constitutional guarantee creates a moral hazard for public safety workers, with full pension funding being a wealth destroying endeavor for police officers and fire fighters..
Police and Fire boards can provide actuarial numbers to the municipality. The municipality can chose to seek their own numbers. Ultimately, it’s the MUNICIPALITY that decides on the annual contribution, not the pension members. Your statement is not accurate.